The Immigrant (2013)

the-immigrant

The Immigrant isn’t just set in the past, but feels like it’s been rediscovered from another time. The latest film from award-winning director James Gray ignites outdated modes of film making and highlights the perfect details behind a luckless Polish woman’s difficulty in attaining the American dream. The intelligence, maturity and honesty of this work is outstanding and a little bewildering to say the least.

Upon arrival at Ellis Island, Ewa is immediately separated from her beloved sister Magda, ignored by her uncle and threatened with deportation back to Poland. All seems hopeless for Ewa until Bruno comes along with the promise of boarding and work at his theatre, which quickly proves as nothing more than a high-class brothel. However kindness arrives in the form of a charming travelling magician who falls for Ewa, meanwhile causing Bruno to become immensely jealous.

The Immigrant has a melodramatic edge to it, but there remains something too fragile and tense about the actress in the role. The film delivers a performance that’s quite integral and charming, but also surprisingly forceful. You can never predict the behaviour and emotions of characters intertwined in the thick plot. The immigrant is almost a fatuous love story in a world haunted by fear. Bruno and Orlando are grown men with weapons, but their devotion to Ewa doesn’t make their actions feel any less immature. For such a gorgeous, thoughtful film, The Immigrant is more of an intellectual experience than an emotional one – mainly as a result of Ewa’s commiserating but never quite heartbreaking problems.

The Immigrant is a simple love story in an undoubtedly terrifying adult world of hate, fear and abandonment. The film unfolds at its own pace, building slowly, perhaps even tediously towards its emotionally relieving conclusion.  Such an incredible movie – and so cold too.

★★★★☆

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Catch Me If You Can – Ingenious deception (2002)

Spielberg’s supremely amusing tale of self-invention in the land of opportunity tells the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a teenager from Rochelle, New York. Spielberg grasped that unique history and turned it into a superbly charming pursuit story precisely set in the sights and sounds of Abagnale’s 1960’s era. The film’s approach is cheerful and fun but maintains firm attention towards the dark side of characters pain and suffering.

Frank Abagnale Jr. was only 16 when he became one of the 1960’s most legendary con artists. The film opens with his home life; everything seems perfect for the teenager, whose parents are seemingly madly in love. But everything changes when Frank Sr. is investigated by the IRS and his dear mother files for divorce only to wed one of her husband’s closest friends. In hope of avoiding the confusion Frank Jr. runs away and begins a three year crime spree in which he successfully impersonates an airline pilot, a doctor, a lawyer and several other professions, and tricks various establishments out of $2.5 million before he is caught and condemned to serve 12 years in prison.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays the young Abagnale with an effortless charm, and we never fail to forget that his character is still a teenager distressed for approval from his father. Tom Hanks is also fantastic as FBI agent Carl Hanratty. The guy is passionate, ambitious and strongly devoted to his profession. Christopher Walken is great as Frank’s father. You really believe the genuine bond between the two characters. Martin Sheen appears as the impending father-in-law for Frank and his reactions to Frank’s giant stories are priceless. Jennifer Garner draws one of the biggest laughs in the movie when she tries to fraud the con man.

Steven Spielberg is a leading storyteller who has a delightful sense of visual design. Though very visually appealing and entertaining, Catch Me If You Can establishes a cheap grace because the soft ending to the movie seems to excuse Frank’s adolescent behavior. The movie, therefore, values love, compassion and sympathy above repentance and responsibility.

Forrest Gump – The Story of a Lifetime (1994)

Forrest Gump is a film heart-breaker of eccentric wit and startling beauty. Gump’s story is an extraordinary virtual-reality tour of the late twentieth century American history. Vietnam, integration, Watergate and other significant events illustrate from the perspective of Hanks’ lovable slow-witted character as he finds himself entangled in situations he can’t seem to understand. The combined everlasting love, dedication, persistence and joy in this film is both refreshing and captivating.

Forrest Gump is gifted with a low IQ and a pure soul, which leads him into a delightfully childlike atmosphere even as he matures. He leads a very charmed life and follows a straight path throughout the world, ever true to the informal advice of his mother. As he grows up he encounters a miraculous incident that eliminates the need for him to have braces on his legs, a childhood girlfriend who constantly remains faithful to him, surviving Vietnam with high awards, and in general, a tendency to transform everything that happens to him into good.

Tom Hanks plays Forrest Gump, a simple Alabama soul who serves his country with dignity and perseverance. Tom Hanks plays the role with a smooth Southern intonation and Evangelic sincerity. Gump is the typical simpleton, his only main characteristic is the passive virtue infused in him by his mama. Overall the performance is a breathtaking balancing act between comedy and sadness, between a story rich in big laughs and quiet truths.

The film effectively follows Forrest on a tour of recent American history. The director, Robert Zemeckis has experience with special effects, previously incorporated in his other feature films such as Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Zemeckis uses computerized visual effects to place Gump in historic situations with real people. Gump teaches Elvis to swivel his hips, becomes a football star, meets John F. Kennedy, speaks at an anti-war rally in Washington, features on the Dick Cavett show with infamous John Lennon and serves with honour in Vietnam.

Forrest Gump is a beautiful illustration of hope and inspires me constantly to strive above and beyond the expectations. Gump is a new male role model, a nice boy with a loving attitude, complete honesty and genuine kindness, which everyone knows is hard to find. The film has many meaningful quotes and inspirational events, for instance my personal favourite; ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you’re going to get’.

Romantics Anonymous ~ An Odd Twist On True Love (2012)

Romantics Anonymous is a bittersweet tale of true love between two pathologically shy chocolate makers. I was pleasantly surprised by the genuine affection and charming humor displayed from the quirky characters throughout the film. Award winning director Jean-Pierre Améris plays with terrifying emotions, misfits and good old-fashioned romance to create this perky retake on everlasting love.

Angélique, a saucy-eyed beauty with a halo of curls, is a gifted chocolatier who is so meek that the merest compliment makes her faint. To build up her confidence she regularly attends 12-step meetings for people who struggle with anxiety disorders. Her male counterpart, Jean-René, is the middle-aged owner of a chocolate shop drowning in debt. Jean-René is afraid to answer his telephone, listens to encouraging tapes at night and regularly visits a therapist. The desirous pair meets when he hires Angélique as a sales representative. The pair embark on a series of failed dates, misread signals and anxiety attacks.

The acting quality is superb. Isabelle Carré is perfect as the wide-eyed Angélique, determined to overcome her insecurities. Benoît Poelvoorde is a refreshing twist on prince charming, a creative character who reveals his charming flaws throughout the film.

The cinematography by Gérard Simon has the palette of a chocolate box; it’s a combination of dark hues and silver highlights that make the real-world location of hotels, factories and streets look like a studio fantasy – rich and beautiful. The films upbeat sense of potential seems earned and its style, seductive.

Romantics Anonymous is an artistic romance with outstanding production, creative cinematography and brilliant actors. Romance blossoms in an unusual way and the unique humour is ironically amusing. If you embrace Romantics Anonymous for what it is, you are sure to enjoy the film, particularly if you admire French romantic comedies.

Amélie – The uniquely creative French film (2001)

So over the next few weeks I’ve decided to review a few of my favourite French films. French films are always unpredictable, unlike Hollywood films you have no idea who’s going to fall in love with whom and when all seems happy there might be a sudden death! I’ve decided to start with Amelie, the greatest film I have ever seen.

The utterly charming French romantic comedy recreates love and compassion through one young woman who’s destined to mend the lives of people around her. Jean-Pierre Jeunet produces Amelie with genuine pleasure; a film bursting with clever wit and irresistible visuals.

Amelie Poulain had an eccentric childhood, as we learn through flashback, raised by two equally eccentric parents who overprotected her and misdiagnosed her of a rare heart disease. As a result she was home schooled and spent most of her time alone, evolving an active imagination. Amelie now works as a waitress in Paris and indulges in the lives of her friends. When she meets a distinctively unique man by the name of Nino she instantly falls in love and the rest of the film follows her unique journey through love, the rediscovery of self and the search for true happiness.

Audrey Tautou is a flawless, doll-faced woman whose expressions and feelings slowly appear as the film continues. It’s a wonderfully coarse performance for which Tautou appears to originate for. Strengthened by a strong supporting cast of remarkable French actors, including actor Mathieu Kassovitz as Amelie’s mysterious lover, comedian Jamel Debbouze as delightful Lucien and Raymond Dufayel as her fragile neighbour, Audrey is constantly in the limelight.

Theoretically, the film is excellent. Jeunet operates inventive techniques to allow Amelie’s world to come to life. Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography is an appealing illustration of yellows, greens and browns gathered into a beautiful and even dreamlike world. The compositions that escort the scenes are immaculate and remarkably suit all scenes exceptionally well.

Amelie is a heartwarming romance matched by an enchanting atmosphere of whimsy and burning emotions that together create a modern fairy tale. What’s amazing is the way the love story loans some desirable heart and soul to all the visual traces. Here is a rare film that will draw you in through the powerful act of compassion and joy.

The Sapphires – Soulful Inspirations (2012)

Australian director Wayne Blair’s recent film based on the hit stage musical, The Sapphires, is a warm, big-hearted crowd pleaser. A powerful combination of perky music, appealing performances and an enlightening story delivers this film festival favourite; virtually impossible to resist. This film is a good old-fashioned romantic musical comedy that is both emotionally and harmoniously spotless.

Inspired by a true story, The Sapphires is about three cheeky yet talented Aboriginal sisters and their cousin living their dream of performing on stage. The film originates in Australia 1968 precisely during the harsh Vietnam War. Sisters Gail, Julie and Cynthia travel into town to audition in a local talent competition where Dave Lovelace, a scruffy keyboard player, recognizes their talent and takes them on a whirlwind of challenges and incredible opportunities. Follow the journey of four ambitious singers and discover the meaning of love, friendship and hope all over again.

Tony Briggs, son of one of the original sapphires, creates the screenplay in collaboration with Goalpost pictures. The movie’s finger-snapping appeal comes from R&B and rock ‘n’ roll tunes that offer an arousing yet astonishing soundtrack to the disturbing Vietnam war. The Sapphires wear decorated outfits of the era and move with stylized choreography of original sixties girl groups.

The central performances of all the actors have their pleasures but the film’s irresistible on-screen chemistry comes in the form of Irish actor Chris O’Dowd. The ‘Bridesmaids’ co-star plays scruffy talent scout and manager Dave Lovelace, who introduces the women to soul music. He’s joined by authentic soul sisters Jessica Mauboy, the pop sensation who steals the show with her sumptuous lead vocals and the constantly oppressed yet talented Deborah Mailman. Funky singers Miranda Tapsell and Shari Sebbens are the most dominant and feminine members of the group.

The Sapphires is more than just a cute musical comedy, although if you make it through this film with dancing and singing along then you have a heart made of stone! Between all the amazing singing and performing the film explores some real history and the struggle for respect and rights that Aboriginal people went through during this period, as well as the unsettling reality of life in the war zone. The Sapphires sing their R&B hearts out, wow the servicemen and discover the meaning of family, friendship and war.

Battleship – The Infamous Board Game Comes to Life (2012)

Jon Hoeber has recently written an action-packed film based on the infamous Hasbro guessing game, Battleship. Battleship combines Air Force One, Independence day and a strong passion for the Navy to create an effects-driven battle against the forces of evil. Battleship is for those who found Transformers too challenging to watch and prefer a modest film that tests the limits of authenticity.

Alex is a careless slouch who lives with his honorable Navy officer brother, Stone. Shortly Alex wins affection of Sam, a tall and beautiful physiotherapist, the daughter of Navy Admiral Shane. He decides to straighten up and join the Navy, but it’s not long before their Navy ship discovers a large robotic armada in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Navy put Alex in charge and its up to him to save the day and return to the girl he’s so madly in love with.

The film has some marvellous visual effects but if you’re generally annoyed by plot holes and the concept of high-tech aliens being beaten by low-tech officers then this isn’t the film for you. However, director Peter Berg has layered patriotism and Navy loyalty into a film filled with morals, to recount the incredible sacrifices of fighting for your country.

Taylor Kitsch showcases his maturity as the leading actor with the troubled and agitated Alex. Popular singer Rihanna is surprisingly great in her first acting effort while Brooklyn Decker steals the spotlight through her delivery of charming physiotherapist Sam. Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard raise the acting quality in the cast but often lack character development throughout the film. It takes half an hour before the aliens hit the screen but meanwhile Battleship introduces the fascinating characters and dramatic persona.

Battleship is a big budget action film perfect for fans of the genre. Peter Berg delivers a dubious yet clever retelling of Transformers but manages to improve the character development and special effects. Strong actors accompanied by a skillful soundtrack; sink into the enthusiastic Navel story that is Battleship.